The long winter of cold relations between Iran and western powers is undergoing a gradual thaw. This is a time to praise God: the brink of war was dangerously close at times, and now there are welcome signs of easing tensions. This is also a time to continue praying: this is a critical period, with much still to achieve.
In the first diplomatic visit in 10 years, a UK parliamentary delegation is visiting Tehran this week led by Jack Straw MP. There have also been recent suggestions that the EU Embassy could re-open in Tehran in the near future. Also, just before the New Year, an Iranian spokesperson announced that world powers and Iran had agreed to start implementing the interim nuclear agreement in late January. The deal obliges Tehran to suspend its most sensitive nuclear work. These are significant steps that could not have been imagined six months ago.
But prayer should continue. The present thaw follows years of fear, mistrust and hatred. We should pray that this temporary thaw becomes long-term, but also that crucial issues such as freedom of religion become central to all discussions, so that the Iranian people can enjoy both peace and justice in greater measure.
• Human rights, including imprisoned Christians, to be a chief concern in discussions
• Wise diplomacy to achieve greatest possible good
• Drums of war to remain silenced